What George Thorogood Found Impressive About Sammy Hagar
By Matt Wardlaw for UltimateClassicRock.com
George Thorogood and Sammy Hagar recently wrapped up the first leg of their Crazy Times summer tour, which will resume on Aug. 23 in Clarkston, Mich.
Both artists delivered high-energy sets under challenging conditions. Temps were in the low 90s as Thorogood walked onstage at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, sweating profusely before he and the band even played a note.
Yet the blues-rocker was in great form for the "Thursday night rock party," as he termed it. He spoke frequently to the crowd, even throwing a good-natured jab at Hagar. "Sammy's backstage mixing up some high-octane tequila, but we're gonna serve up a bourbon, scotch and beer," he teased, a song or two before the fan-favorite cover arrived in the set list.
The pair has shared some good times already, as a recent post on Hagar's Instagram demonstrated. "He came out and watched our entire set," Thorogood tells UCR. "That's impressive from a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer." He also commented on Hagar's stage attire. "Sammy has come a long way with his wardrobe. I saw him on TV once and he was wearing a hockey uniform," Thorogood says. "I thought, 'Man, are you a hockey player or a rock 'n' roll star, buddy?'"
We spoke with Thorogood on the afternoon following the Ohio date. His tour bus had already made its way to "somewhere in Canada" for the next part of the adventure, as he continues to play additional shows.
One of the songs that has long been a staple in your set is "Night Time." How did you first come across that one?
A friend of ours who lived in the neighborhood was in a band called Spectrum. They were doing a battle of the bands. His band did that, and I’d never heard the song before. It had just come out. I said, “Man, I’ve got to learn that song.” Every band I’ve ever been in since I was a kid, I made them learn the song “Night Time.” Actually, we cut it back in 1974 and we had a dynamite version of it. I wanted it to be our first single. I wanted it to be our initial thing, and then we’d follow it up with an album the next year. It ended up on a bootleg record, like five years later, on the Better Than the Rest album – a really terrible record – but the song did finally see the light of the day. Our bass player at that time hated the song because it's a heavy bass song. This guy was really lazy. [Laughs.] He didn’t want to do anything, but he was a huge J. Geils Band fan. I said, “Listen, we’ve got to do this tune before J. Geils gets a hold of it.” He goes, “J. Geils would never touch this song.” Out comes the Love Stinks album and guess what’s on the album? I think it was their first gold record. So I can pick ‘em, OK?
The guitar parts on that song are really fun. It seems impossible to be in a bad mood when you're playing stuff like that.
That’s the idea of our band; that’s what we’re about. Nothing more, nothing less. Our leadoff song is “Rock Party.” That says it all. J. Geils leads off with “(Ain’t Nothin’ But a) House Party,” I mean, that’s who we are. That’s what we are. To look beyond that, people would say, “You guys are like a bar band.” We’re more like a party band. That’s just evolved over the years. Jeff Simon, our drummer, he was the one who really inspired us. That was his input with our act. I was a little too serious. Jeff was trying to lighten me up a little bit, saying, “You know, George, there’s only one Taj Mahal. There’s only one John Hammond.” He said, “Be George. Be what you are.” He was the one who encouraged me and helped me to find myself as a performer.
How did you develop your version of John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" back in the day?
Well, it just kind of evolved. We were playing it in a three-piece in Boston. Jeff Simon and I had just been evicted from our house, and we didn’t really have any place to go. I’d been listening to just about everything that John Lee Hooker had ever done up until that point. Everybody was watching the World Series: There was about 15 people in the club, that’s about it, including our bass player and drummer. I went up to the stage, picked up the guitar and started doing “House Rent Boogie” by John Lee Hooker. As I was playing it, I started talking and magically, our bass player and drummer came up and just bam, kicked it into “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” The connection was made and the bar emptied and the dance floor was packed. I said, “Aha! We’ve got something there. Let’s stay with it.”
JULY 2022 BOOGIE PEOPLE FAN OF THE MONTH
Congratulations to the Boogie People Fan of the Month for July 2022 Darrel H! Learn more about Darrell below!
Where are you from?: Mannum - South Australia
How many years have you been a fan?: From the moment in 1986 that my older brother played the live album at a party I was hooked.
What is your favorite George Thorogood song: Hello Little Girl
How many times have you seen George Thorogood live? 20-30 Times
What’s one thing that sets you apart from other George Thorogood fans?: My old school red ( white guitar ) signed t shirt and my dedication ranging from spending days at Adelaide airport to meet George and the band to meeting Jim outside Thebarton Theatre while sitting outside on a deck chair with drinks listening to the sound checks. Also going on tour around Australia being a groupie and driving from town to town or flying. Even went to New Orleans just to see George!
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George Thorogood on New Zealand: 'It's a force to be reckoned with'
Courtesy Amberleigh Jack/ Stuff
From the aviator sunglasses inside, to the full head of hair and deep American accent, rock legend George Thorogood embodies the image of an 80s rock legend who is still living the dream decades later.
He is humble, though. Not in a self-deprecating way, but he knows he is lucky to be living a life of rock and roll 45 years after the release of the band’s self-titled debut album.
He had dreams of guitar legend status as a kid. As time went on that quickly became, “I just want to be able to make a living doing this”.
As for the phenomenal success that became a reality?
“I don’t think anybody had that kind of imagination,” he says.
Plenty of music greats are still “kicking it” years later he says, but suggests musicians like the Who and Paul McCartney were brilliant from the get go.
“They had a bit more to work with than I did,” he laughs.
“A lot of those cats were blessed with great musical talent and insight ... there’s only one Paul McCartney.”
It could be said there is only one George Thorogood, too, though. He laughs.
“I do ok with what I got.”
The band is heading to New Zealand for the 45 Years of Rock tour in October this year. Thorogood has clear memories of the band’s 2020 visit Down Under. The first being the weather was some of the hottest it has ever been. The second was New Zealand crowds were there to party.
“ was the greatest experience we ever had working there,” he says.
“New Zealand as a country is a power to be reckoned with. It’s not a Sleepy Hollow like some people think,” he says adding the crowd size and enthusiasm was incredible.
“I can’t wait to come back”
George Thorogood and the Destroyers first gained success in the late 1970s with cover songs like the reworked John Lee Hooker’s One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer. But it was Thorogood’s first release of a song he wrote himself that cemented his place in the rock world.
Bad to the Bone was released in 1982. Perhaps most famously, it was used during the bar scene in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. That was the scene we saw the terminator (also a fan of sunglasses inside) for the first time. The song has featured in more than 25 films or television shows. Even 40 years later, it remains an iconic “bad boy” song.
He knew the song was good when he wrote it, he assumed it would be a good song for the fans. As for the insane success that followed its release, however, he never saw it coming.
“To make it to this level, we never dreamed of that. Nobody does.”
He feels that way about the band’s success as a whole, too.
“When I was starting I had ears and I could hear the sounds coming out of the guitar. I knew I had something. I knew I had something I could make a living doing,” he says.
But now he is 72, he is on his way back to New Zealand and has a name synonymous with old school rock and roll. It could be easy to chill out and rets on his laurels. But that is not the George Thorogood way of doing things.
“If someone comes up to me and says you were really good yesterday, I say ‘yeah, yesterday’, I don’t like to look in the rearview mirror,” he says.
“I want to compete with myself. I want to be better than I was yesterday. I can’t say I want to be better than Jeff Beck, nobody can. Forget about that, see if you can top George Thorogood. That keeps me pretty busy.”
After decades of living the rock and roll dream, is there anything that stands out as a career highlight?
“Yeah,” says Thorogood.
And that every night buzz is enough to keep him coming back for more. At least for now.
“I’m planning on doing it at least until I get to New Zealand,” he says.
“And then we’ll take it from there.”
JUNE 2022 BOOGIE PEOPLE FAN OF THE MONTH
Congratulations to the Boogie People Fan of the Month for June 2022 Kyle S! Learn more about Kyle below!
Where are you from?: Virginia
How many years have you been a fan?: 47 Years!
What is your favorite George Thorogood song: Who Do You Love?
How many times have you seen George Thorogood live? Been to 20+ shows and love all of them!
What’s one thing that sets you apart from other George Thorogood fans?: I've seen him in more states than most fans
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